Tony Travers in an essay for Centre for London:
New York may be the definitive celluloid city but London has a distinctive place in filmmaking, both as a location and as one of the world’s leading centres of production and post-production. Like New York and Paris, London’s image is affected by the way it is portrayed in the cinema. Equally, feature films often capture the city’s zeitgeist in a way that make it accessible forever as an historical record of the appearance, political concerns and social attitudes of the time.
Tony goes on to select some highlights from London’s long and fascinating history on film, ranging from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Bedazzled (1967), to The Long Good Friday (1980, which I wrote about last year) to Love Actually (2003). I’ve found some decent YouTube clips to give a taste of some of the others.
First, a nightclub scene from Sapphire (1959), directed by Basil Dearden.
Dearden’s earlier Pool of London (1951) followed the progress of a black sailor in the capital, when it was still a working port. His subsequent Victim (1961), also set in London, was about the persecution faced by gay men. Next, the trailer for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up.
Love without meaning, murder without guilt. Dear me. And the Yardbirds. Finally, the closing Thames-side scene from the original Alfie (1966), starring Michael Caine as the cad of the title role.